From birth, my mother taught me the value of affection. She relied upon her maternal instinct and ignored the “expert” advice against picking me up if I cried. Her reasons for doing so didn’t stem from a scientific understanding of brain development, based on what babies experience early in their lives; she just knew that it was beneficial to form that bond when possible.
Throughout my childhood, she generously hugged me, when I needed comfort. She knew just what to say and she knew how to make me feel accepted, loved, understood. When my babies were born, I appreciated the opportunity to see her interact with them because it took me back to the early years of my life and those feelings of comfort from being cuddled, and not left to cry. She understood the importance of human touch so well that she volunteered at her nearest hospital. Her job? To hold babies in ICU, providing them with warmth and comfort. She did it for as long as she could but confessed that she had to stop because she found it very emotionally taxing.
She always made my children and me feel like we were special gifts. Her affectionate nature knew no boundaries. When she was battling cancer, even when she was at her weakest, she still managed the strength to hug us tightly and often, as she planted dozens of kisses on our cheeks. I knew she was trying to make up for the time when she wouldn’t be here anymore and, because of that, I felt her hugs and kisses take on an urgency I’d never felt before. She was telling us that she would miss hugging us as much as we were going to miss hugging her. And we do, very much.
I feel grateful for the legacy she left behind. I am affectionate, because of her, and, instinctively, I’m drawn to others who are affectionate. Whether or not she was aware of the gift she gave me, I think it was a wonderful thing for her to ensure a lifetime of hugs, knowing she wouldn’t always be around to hug me herself.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.